The West Australian government is offering $ 3000 assistance grants to small businesses affected by the recent lockdown.
Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Friday that although the lockdown was only in the Perth and Peel regions, some regional businesses would also be eligible for the grants.
“This is because we recognise that regional businesses lost customers heading into the school holidays,” he said.
More than 15,400 businesses in Perth and Peel, as well as 2300 businesses in regional WA may be eligible, including hospitality, tourism, catering, fitness, beauty and performing arts and others.
“We understand the $ 3000 will not cover every cost for every business, but it will provide some significant cash flow assistance,” Mr McGowan said.
The state government has committed $ 41.5m for the new grants and Mr McGowan rejected the suggestion that it was not enough.
“It’s the most generous scheme of its type in Australia and obviously on a per day basis of lockdown it has been more generous than those put in place in NSW, Victoria and Queensland,” he said.
The Perth and Peel regions were plunged into a four-day lockdown after a physiotherapist contracted Covid-19 in Bondi and unwittingly brought it home with her, spreading the virus to others in the community.
Following the snap lockdown, there have been a series of lingering restrictions, including the use of masks.
But on Monday, the tough measures – including capacity limits and service restrictions – are expected to be lifted after WA recorded no new cases of coronavirus for the fifth consecutive day.
“In short, WA is about to snap back to life, to the life we love, a community that’s open and free, and most importantly safe,” Mr McGowan said.
Meanwhile, Victoria is now deemed a “very low risk” state under WA’s strict border rules.
Mr McGowan said the Northern Territory was also on track to become a “low risk” jurisdiction on Monday morning.
But the Premier flagged making restrictions even tighter for NSW travellers, who are mostly banned from entering WA.
“If it goes further out of control in NSW, we’ll have to look at what else we can do,” he said.
“Some people are still allowed in by the exempt category.”
Some people can enter on compassionate grounds, but Mr McGowan foreshadowed those rules could be tightened.
“That’s just an analysis that’s going on,” he said.
The report of no new cases overnight is a relief after more than 50 staff, patients and visitors at Geraldton Health Campus were deemed casual contacts of a virus-infected crew member from the MV Emerald Indah.
The seafarer had spent up to three hours in the hospital’s emergency department on Sunday before being transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth where he remains in a stable condition.
Mr McGowan said genomic sequencing had showed the man had contracted the Delta variant.
“This is obviously concerning news and justifies the very cautious approach we have taken,” the Premier said.
He said 46 out of 55 casual contacts had so far returned negative test results.
A hospital worker who was not wearing personal protective equipment when they entered a lift shortly after the crew member exited was deemed a close contact and has been isolating.
More than 5000 Covid-19 tests were conducted on Thursday, Mr McGowan said.
More than 11,000 people received a Covid-19 vaccination on Thursday, including more than 4000 who were given their second dose.
Authorities are monitoring 11 active cases — six linked to Perth’s northern suburbs cluster, four returned travellers in hotel quarantine and the seafarer.
“All close and casual contacts identified in the northern suburbs community cluster have so far tested negative,” the WA Health Department said in a statement earlier on Friday.